5 things I love about living in a pueblo in España
I live in a tiny pueblo in the south of Spain called Puente Genil. It is not exciting. It is not a travel destination. If you visited Spain, you would never visit Puente Genil. But it is where I was placed to live and teach this year, and I have grown to love bits and pieces of it.
1. I love seeing the kids I teach all over town. They will call out my name (Kah-tay!) and I will greet them and wave…but inevitably, no matter that we’ve completely acknowledged each other’s presence and existence, they will run up to me in bouncing excitement the next day at school to say “¡te vi!” (“I saw you!”) and then tell me all about it as though I wasn’t there. It’s completely random and adorable.
2. Barely anybody in my pueblo speaks English and it’s definitely a blessing in disguise. Every little day to day thing I need to do has to be done in Spanish. Living here forces me to really practice all the time—which is what I want, even though some days I wish I could be lazy and just speak English.
3. I love that I can be removed from modern, busy life here when I chose to be. Yes, this is a modern town with internet and indoor plumbing (ha!) but there are little things about the overall atmosphere that feel set aside from the frenetic pace that technology sometimes causes. I love going to get a coffee in one of the plazas on Sunday afternoon and seeing the large families gathered outside to have a meal that will last all afternoon, the little children left to their own devices to run wild around the fountain and build trains out of chairs. And the children are always dressed in little sweater sets, the boys with suspenders and the girls in little dresses and tights and big bows. Sometimes it’s a little Stepfordian, but it’s also precious.
4. Kind of along the same lines as 3, but I have grown to love having a more simple life without some of the luxuries I am used to at home in the States. At first I resented having to walk across town to buys groceries (well, for the cheaper ones—there’s a market on my street for quick buys), or lug laundry up to the roof and wait a day or two for it to dry, but now I appreciate the process of these things. I use the walk to the store or other errands as a chance to people watch in town, listen to the Spanish around me, and get some exercise. (I also buy less junk that I don’t need when I know I have to carry it! Ha!) And now I love hanging my laundry and catching glimpses of the views of my pueblo and the countryside. Everything looks so different far up on my rooftop.
5. The community in my small town can be frustrating, because everyone has known everyone since birth practically, but it can also be really rewarding because the right people are anxious to take in the rare outsider. Through giving private English lessons I got to know one particular family and I feel so blessed to know them. They always invite me for meals and send me home with not only my payment but little treats. I feel so comfortable with them and I am grateful that they were so eager to treat me more like family than their tutor.
Living abroad in general is a challenge. Living abroad and trying to learn a language can be even more challenging. Add to these things living in a tiny town, and you have yourself one big adventure.